The Queen's forced rest is no cause for alarm - but we shouldn't forget her age

ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reports on the recent events that have shone a spotlight on the 95-year-old monarch's health

The Queen’s condition is not Covid related but the 95-year-old Head of State did embark on a busy schedule this month since returning from her annual summer break in Balmoral. 

We should not, therefore, be hugely surprised by the advice from her doctors – in what’s called the Medical Household – that she should rest up for a few days.

Had she not been due for a two-day visit to Northern Ireland today – a visit which is always kept secret until her arrival for security reasons - we might not even have been told of her medical advice.

But Buckingham Palace were clearly forced into making a public statement as the trip – to mark the centenary of partition in this part of Ireland - was cancelled.

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Anyone who saw the Queen at a reception in Windsor Castle on Tuesday night would acknowledge that she did not look gravely ill.

She met the Prime Minister and many senior investors as she joined Prince Charles and Prince William at the event.

Buckingham Palace also released video footage this week of the Queen’s virtual audience with the incoming Governor-General in New Zealand.

That followed last week’s speech at the opening of the Welsh Parliament, the Senedd, in Cardiff and a service at Westminster Abbey in honour of the work of the Royal British Legion.

The Queen was recently pictured using a walking stick for the first time Credit: PA

At the Abbey, the Queen was pictured with a walking stick for the first time – having had it passed to her by her daughter Princess Anne when she left the car.

At the time, we were told there was no particular reason for her stick just that she was using it for her “comfort”.

But it was a valuable reminder that the Monarch is five years away from her 100th birthday, and that many people of a similar age have been using walking aids for some time.

In recent years, there have been subtle changes to her work to take account of her advancing years.

In 2017, she stopped laying a wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday in part because of the steps and the walking backwards that is required.

In 2015, she stopped travelling overseas, leaving the royal tours abroad to other senior members of her family such as Prince Charles and Prince William.

But she has also suffered a number of setbacks in the past year, both in her family and for the institution.

She lost her husband of 73 years in April, she’s been dealing with the fallout of the departure of Harry and Meghan amid accusations of racism, and her second son Prince Andrew continues to cause reputational damage to the wider Monarchy as a result of the ongoing allegations of sexual assault, which he denies.

These have not been the most difficult years for the Queen, if we think of the Windsor Castle fire in 1992 or the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

But nor have they been the most benign for the Family and the Monarchy.

We are told that the Queen still expects to host world leaders at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow at the end of this month – just as she did at the G7 summit in Cornwall in the summer.

Her enforced rest is not therefore a huge cause for alarm, but we should remind ourselves at a time like this that the Queen won’t be able to keep going at this pace forever.